Thursday, May 29, 2014

"This Church"

There is a parish not too far from here where the pastor prefaces each Sunday mass with, “Welcome to the house of the Church of The Holy Angels” (not the actual name).  I always thought this a curious statement until I realized the point he was making: This building is where the people of this community gather, but it is not the church. It is the people who are Church, where they gather is just a building.  We are Church no matter where we are, in an auditorium, in the school gym or, as in my early Church experience, worshipping together in a public school cafeteria because we were a new community just being established.
In Mark’s gospel Jesus speaks of the two ‘churches’- the one a physical building and the other metaphysical, 
"We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with (human) hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'" Mark 14: 58.  
Jesus is our center, we are Church in Him.  Jesus established His Church in us, not in a building.  We are the temples in which He dwells; where the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son reside.  We are a living Church.
We cannot contain God within the confines of a building.  A building is not ‘holy’, but it is where holiness dwells; dwelling within its people who gather to worship in communion with God and one another.  We are Church, not inside these four walls and behind these beautiful windows which are monumental symbols of our love for God, but Church in our love for God reflected in our love for one another.  We are Church to the whole world.  We recognize God in one another, not in the façade of a building.  Our community and fellowship with all the children of God is our Church.  As this community is Church in our town or city, we are all Church in this diocese, in this country, in this world.  We are connected, as Church, to all our brothers and sisters in and through Jesus Christ. 
We are pilgrims on a journey, passing through this life and these buildings in just a moment in time.  It is in the kingdom of God where we will dwell for all eternity.  Our desire is in rejoicing in the embrace of God for eternity, not in leaving a marker of our earthly existence.  As we hear in Matthew 6: 19,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . .”
In these buildings we gather to worship God (the first of the two greatest commandments) and to love one another, in our journey to the gates of heaven (the second commandment).  Be Church with one another: gather, pray, worship, work and love - for the kingdom of God is at hand.

Deacon Don

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